PC Makers Take a Dive and Rite Aid Outperforms: Morning Buzzers

U.S. stock futures remained mixed on Thursday morning. The U.S. Department of Labor reported that for the week ended April 6, initial claims for unemployment insurance fell 42,000 to a seasonally-adjusted 346,000. The four-week moving average edged up to 358,000.

Futures at 8:50 a.m.: DJIA: +0.07%, S&P 500: +0.03%, NASDAQ: -0.24%.

Here’s what’s buzzing on Thursday morning:

Noble Energy (NYSE:NBL) stock was up as much as 2 percent in pre-market trading. Charles Davidson, who is CEO of the independent oil and gas company, told reporters on Thursday morning that he expects the company to “double in size in terms of production, double in size in cash flow, double in size in terms of reserves” over the next five years. At the end of the 2012, the company had 1,184 million barrels of oil equivalent in reserve, and trailing twelve-month cash flow of $2.93 billion.

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MetroPCS Communications (NYSE:PCS) was off about half a percent in pre-market trading after climbing 3.3 percent on Wednesday. Deutsche Telekom (DTEGY.PK) has reportedly made a best-and-final offer to merge the carrier with its T-Mobile USA unit. The new deal would reduce the combined debt load of the companies by $3.8 billion to $11.2 billion, as well as reduce interest by as much as 50 basis points.

Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) was off as much as 5.8 percent in pre-market trading. In the absence of company-specific catalysts, an IDC report that estimates that worldwide PC shipments in the first quarter of 2013 fell 13.9 percent to 76.3 million could be to blame. The decline is much worse than the 7.7 percent decline initially forecasted, and is the wost year-on-year contraction on record.

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) was off as much as 3.4 percent in pre-market trading, erasing gains made during Wednesday’s regular session. Goldman Sachs slapped the tech company with a downgrade from Neutral to Sell and lowered its price target from $30 to $27, 10.8 percent below Wednesday’s closing price of $30.28. The IDC report can’t be helping either. Ostensibly trapped on the same lifeboat is Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), which was off about 1.8 percent in pre-market trading after gains earlier in the week…

Pier 1 Imports (NYSE:PIR) was off about 2.7 percent in pre-market trading after the specialty retailer reported fiscal fourth-quarter and full-year financial results. Comparable-store sales increased 7.5 percent for the year, while earnings per share increased 27.7 percent on a non-GAAP basis, but fell 18.9 percent on a GAAP basis.

Rite Aid (NYSE:RAD) stock was up as much as 12.8 percent in pre-market trading after the retail drugstore chain released fourth-quarter and full-year financial results. The company reported fourth-quarter net income of $0.13 per diluted share, which compares against a loss of $0.18 in the year-ago period. Full-year net income of $0.12 per share compares against a $0.43 per-share loss last year. Net income guidance for 2014 is in a range between $0.04 and $0.20 per diluted share.

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Yum! Brands (NYSE:YUM) can’t seem to catch a break. The owner of international restaurant brands such as Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and KFC was off as much as 2.3 percent in pre-market trading. Investors seem concerned that sales in China, where the company derives as much as 50 percent of its revenue for KFC, could suffer in light of a new bird flu. Sales in the country already took a hit this year after officials found an unacceptable level of antibiotics in chickens provided by KFC suppliers.

Zumiez (NASDAQ:ZUMZ), a lightly-traded maker of sports apparel, climbed as much as 9.4 percent in pre-market trading. The company reported that March comparable-store sales increased 2.1 percent, while net sales increased 19.7 percent year over year to $61 million.

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